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Full Feasibility Study for Anaerobic Digestion

Posted Friday, October 17, 2008

Sustainable Youlgrave will shortly be commissioning a consultant to carry out a full feasibility study into the appropriateness and viability of setting up and running one or more anaerobic digestion (AD) biogas plants in the Bradford Valley.

The aim is to generate biogas or electricity and heat from on-farm organic waste (and possibly off-farm wastes) for use or sale, and produce safe farm digestates to displace artificial fertilisers presently in use. Farmers are under increasing regulation regarding the application of raw slurry to their land where they are situated in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (which restrict the nitrate application and spreading dates). This in turn creates storage and spreading issues for farmers. The competitive tender enquiry has been sent out to four consultants. The successful one will contact all working farmers in the Bradford valley to find out those interested and gather relevant data from them about their farm system and operation and other local off-farm wastes, before analysing them against all other associated aspects and constraints. The study will consider local transportation, appropriate types of AD plant, identify possible plant sites, consider plant operation, regulations and the economics of finance and carbon.

Anaerobic digestion is a natural biological process carried out by bacteria in the absence of air, by which organic material is broken down into stable fertiliser and useful biogas. These anaerobic bacteria are an integral component of nature’s waste management and are commonly found in soils and deep waters, as well as in landfill sites (REA definition – and see process diagram below).

Diagram explaining the production of biogas through anaerobic digestion of waste.

SY group members have been busy furthering their own knowledge by attending an AD seminar at Walford College in Shropshire; while during August we organised a group visit to Ludlow for local Peak District farmers interested in knowing more about AD (see photos). They visited a pioneering site run by AD and biogas specialists, Greenfinch, which deals with much of South Shropshire’s organic green waste. It was a highly interesting and useful visit, prompting much positive debate.

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